Victoria names two new poet laureates

Award-winning writer John Barton and recent high school graduate Aziza Moqia Sealey-Qaylow have been named the new Poet Laureate and Youth Poet Laureate of Victoria.

Barton, the former editor of The Malahat Reviw, will hold the four-year-position as Poet Laureate until Dec. 31, 2022. He is required to produce three new original works each year during his term, and will serve as a mentor to Sealey-Qaylow during her one-year term. Barton has authored 26 books, with three more expected over the next two years, including We Are Not Avatars: Essays, Memoirs, Manifestos, his first book of prose.

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Sealey-Qaylow, who recently graduated with honours from Reynolds high school, is tasked with creating three new works of poetry during her term, and will collaborate with the Greater Victoria Public Library on a poetry workshop for teens, among other projects. The spoken-word poet is the daughter of a Somali refugee and seventh-generation Canadian, and hopes to incorporate her background into her upcoming projects.

“I love to learn from everyone I meet, and collaborate with open minds,” she said in a statement.

When the position was created in 2013, Victoria became the first municipality in Canada to have a Youth Poet Laureate.

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